Last Thursday I challenged you to share something good about yourself. It was wonderfully inspiring to see people respond to the challenge. I encourage you do it again this week, tell me something good about yourself, or if you still find that too difficult, how about this, tell me something good about a friend of yours. Pick just one friend and tell me all the wonderful things you love about that friend. We can do another friend next week.
I want to tell you about my friend Laura Salas. If you don’t know Laura’s books or poetry, you should. Her website is full of kinds of all fun stuff as is her blog. I met Laura years ago in an online critique group and while we have only had the pleasure of being in person together twice (once at the Chautauqua conference and once at KidLit con) we have maintained our friendship via emails and Skype calls. She’s an awesome cheerleader to have on your team and terrific critiquer as well. If you already know Laura, you know of her generous heart and unending support of poetry. She wants poetry to be easy and accessible for everyone and she works hard to make that happen. For the past, shoot, four or five years (Laura, help me remember here) she has done a Thursday poetry exercise called Poems of 15 Words or Less. Every Thursday she posts a photograph and invites people to share their poetic responses in the comments. The only catch is that it has to be 15 words or less.
I can’t believe how long she has been doing this and that every single Thursday, she comes up with something to say about the photo she posts. I have participated on and off but I confess, sometimes the pictures don’t inspire me and I just have to let it go. But for a while there I was doing the 15 Words or Less on a pretty regular basis. I saved the photos to my computer, along with my poems, knowing I didn’t want to lose my words but I didn’t know what else I might do with them.
Then I started art journaling and I knew that my collection of 15 Words or less poems would be perfect in an art journal. I had so much fun creating art pages and then adding Laura’s photos and my words. I ended up with a lovely fat book that still surprises me when I turn the pages.
But the story doesn’t end there. As some of you who follow me on Facebook might know, last night I participated in my first art show. One of the pieces on display was my Laura Salas inspired Art Journal! I can’t even put into words the thrill of standing at one end of the gallery and peeking down toward the other end and watching complete strangers flipping the pages, nodding their head at something they read.
Thank you, Laura, for the idea of 15 Words or Less inspiration, for the dedication to keeping it going, week after week after week (even when life is trying its best to beat you up) and for being the wonderfully supportive friend that you are.
I had eight other pieces in the show as well, from a series called “Notes From a Life”. I’ve included a few pages from the art journal and the individual pieces in the photos below. And it looks like I may have already sold my first piece.
Click on any photo to see it larger.
Your turn, tell me something wonderful about a friend of yours.
I'm off to a writing retreat this weekend and am taking some of my collage supplies to share with my friends so we can have some art fun. These are some inspiration cards I did up quickly for examples for them. The small ones are ATC size and the larger ones are those pesky magazine subscription cards.
Some of you have already seen this on Facebook or Google+ and if so, I apologize for the repeats. I'm still getting myself back up to speed with posting to my various regular haunts.
Here's the journey through a recent piece of art I did for a memorial book for a friend who had recently passed.
This was the beginning.
Next phase after many more layers.
And the final version.
I learned a lot through this process.
I’ve been working steadily on my 15 Words or Less art journal and think I can mark it pretty much D for Done. It was a great learning experience for me on how to use various paints and inks, how to make textures, and how to add layers. I don’t love every page but I like them all and love a lot of them. The handwriting bugs me the most but not enough to paint over it and start again. It’s a learning journal, not a piece of museum art. A lot like an early draft of novel.
I’ve posted a few of my favorites here. You can click on the picture to see the larger versions or go here to see the entire album on Flickr.
Last week I shared some backgrounds I was working on for my 15 Words or less art journal. I have some of the pages finished or close to finished. Art, like writing, is a constant learning process. There are some things I really like about each of these pages and some things I don’t. There are sections I look at and feel, mostly in my gut, that something isn’t working but I don’t know what. Like I said, it’s all a learning process. If you’re interested in more detail you can click on the picture to see it larger.
I would have liked to do make the pictures move more to the back of the page, like with an image transfer, but I don’t have the energy to do 50 image transfers for this book. So I’m concentrating one trying to blend them in effectively. It works better on some than on others. I wish I had paid more attention to the sizes of the photos before I printed them out but it was another good learning process for me.
I like sharing this in various stages and even if they are less than "finished" because it helps me feel better overall about putting myself out. Not everything I write or make is going to be terrific or appeal to everyone and that’s okay. I started with a watercolor book, painted the pages with various Golden Fluid acrylics. Collaged the pictures and various papers, added more color with my Neocolor II, Portfolio Oil Pastels and walnut inks. I love using the walnut inks but they take DAYS to dry. Grrr. Even with using a blow dryer on the page. I use the Sharpie Poster Paint water-based pens to write on all the pages.
Right now with art I think I am stronger in colors that I believe I am. I think my weak point is composition. I hate my handwriting (doesn’t everyone?) but I wanted the handwritten connection to the words here since this are all poetry warm-up exercises. Nothing to be written in gold or carved in stone or worried about.
What kind of art making is feeding your soul these days?
I made these yesterday, playing around with ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and some larger cards, trying to get a feel for what size I like best. The first one is slightly larger than ATC. The next two are standard ATCs (2.5 x 3.5 inches) and the last two (the largest) are magazine subscription cards that were built up with paint and collage. The wordy backgrounds were from when I ripped up old Horn Book magazines a few weeks ago. I glued them onto to some cards to have some bases ready and just reached for them when I started to play. I didn’t plan the collage elements around the words but it is funny to see that the barking dog points to the word “violence”.
Even more fun than making them, was seeing the look on ’s face when I gave them to her today. She’s been playing with some artsy stuff of her own and I was hoping to inspire her to continue to do so.
You can click through see the larger versions in the Flickr album.
I took a break from all the house stuff today and headed to the studio for a little art time. I had started this collage months ago but finally got the chance to finish it. I have just the spot for her in my office. Well, as soon as all the furniture from all the other rooms gets moved out of there and I can actually get INTO my office again.
(edited to upload a new picture closer to the true colors)
I’m taking an online class right now in creative journaling with Kelly Kilmer. One of the things I like about it is that it is a work at your own pace sort of thing. All the lessons are already posted and you can do one a day or none a day or ten a day or whatever. I also like that she is talking about layout because I’ve been trying to “see” things rather than “hear” stories and it’s still a struggle for me. What I have learned is that I could spend days (I kid you not) trying to copy a template and never be happy with what I am doing but once I finally gave myself permission to not follow the rules and just use the template as a jumping off point, things fell more into place. I am so conditioned to following rules that I expected the art police to show up at my door and yell at me for not creating to plan.
Silly, I know.
This is one of the pages from my journal for this class. I’m using pages from an old DayTimer because even though I have some nice brand-new books with clean pages but this is a lot of practice stuff and I figure why not use up some old stuff? I like the way this page came out. It makes me smile to think of all the wonders waiting to happen just because of what might or might not be in my pocket.
I’m thinking about my WIP, about Flyboy, and how the last few months I’ve taken a lot of classes trying to shake things up in my head in order to better get them down on the page. One class had me thinking about theme and major story questions and when I finished that class I thought, “Oh yeah I’ve got it now. I know where I’m going.” Another class had me thinking all about traditional mysteries and by the time I got to the end of the class I was sure that’s what I was going to do except then I remembered that I didn’t even read mysteries.
Do you see where I’m going here? I got so hung up on trying to follow someone else’s ideas of the rules for my story that I forgot, for a little bit, that it was MY story.
Sometimes rules are needed, to keep us safe. And sometimes they are just guidelines to get you started in case you’re feeling a little bit lost.
Remember you’re the only one who can tell your story. Tell it, please.
Instead, I thought I’d share the cover of the vision journal and the evolution of it, though I will say that I am tempted to redo it. I don’t like the pink. Sigh.
I started with a yellow background and some pictures of me. I wanted pictures that made me feel good about me and I liked the way the layout happened.
|From Vision Journal|
Then I got the bright idea to put a border around it all. I should have stopped her and put down a different color. Green maybe. I still might.
|From Vision Journal|
I tried to soften the pink with white crayon. Then I added the title. I should have tried to mix paint to that deeper pink for the frames. That might have been better.
|From Vision Journal|
I decided to add some yellow fibery stuff that I liked.
|From Vision Journal|
I decided to outline the letters in black but then I needed to connect the black so I put the black dots on the pink frames.
|From Vision Journal|
This journal is sketch pad that where I built up the pages with collage of magazine pages then I painted over them. Because I wanted to do all the backgrounds at once, I took the wire out of the spiral then, once they were all painted, I wove some gold cord back through the holes. I added a couple of flowers and then called it done.
|From Vision Journal|
But I am really thinking about tearing off the yellow fringe and repainted the frames something else.
Friday was all about Poetry so I’m trying a Saturday Six – art journal edition.
1. The prep. All the early stuff I read said to Gesso the pages of the art journal before doing anything. I did that on a few pages and I have to say I hate it. Okay, maybe hate is strong but I don’t like it. I really don’t like the way it feels. I know it’s supposed to strengthen the page and absorb the water but what I see happening is that paper disappears and I realize that the reason I am drawn to collage is because it is all about the paper. And the appeal of an art journal for someone who doesn’t draw is again, about playing with paper via collage. I will try a few more pages with Gesso but so far, not a fan. But on YouTube there was a video of this person who did their page with no Gesso and instead just built up the page with a layer of paper and then painted over it. Aha! I thought I had landed on the perfect path for me. It was a great way to use up parts of the magazine I was going to throw away. I loved doing the paper base layer but then when it came time to paint over it, guess what? The texture of paper changed again. Well duh! I don’t know what I was thinking, that I could do all these things to paper and it would still feel like paper. So I can see me using both, Gesso when I want a plain background in a hurry and the paper buildup when I want words or whatever is on the paper to show up through the paint or when I am going to apply a thick layer of paint anyway. I am a very textured oriented person. VERY. So I am really having a hard time with the way the paper changes textures by putting Gesso or paint on it. A really hard time.
2. The paper. In the collage class we have access to some of the most beautiful decorative and handmade papers but those don’t work for the base of the art journal. Since I knew I was going to experiment with the various materials and backgrounds I’ve been using mostly journals I had on hand. I had some sketchbooks (not that I sketched but because I liked the way they felt) and some normal journals with thin pages (I’ve been Gessoning over them) but I bought two watercolor journals for specific projects and can already see the appeal of those thick pages. Last night I learned about the difference between hot press and cold press pages and realized all I have is cold press. Now I’m on the search for a hot press watercolor book that is spiral bound. (For those, like me, that didn’t know the difference, hot press is smoother paper and cold press is more textured.)
3. Adhesives. Who knew there were so many things to think about with glue?I have three jars of Modge Podge that I don’t think will ever be used because of a fear of tackiness and there’s no way I am sealing every page. Perhaps I’ll find some other 3D object to decoupage that I won’t mind sealing. I bought a couple different kinds of matte medium to try, Golden and Liqutex. I also have a stack of glue sticks from projects I do with kids in the classroom. I tried the glue sticks on the vision board and it probably would have worked okay if I had worked differently, maybe on a small scale. I really like the Golden matte medium and the verdict is still out on the Liqutex since I haven’t tried it yet. One thing for sure, whatever I use, I am going to go through a lot of it. Wow! And I mean a LOT! 3. Tools. Brushes and sponges. Ugh. I hate when the hairs of the brush come loose in the paint or the matte medium. I imagine the expensive brushes don’t do that but I can’t rationalize expensive brushes at this stage of the game.
4. Paint. I bought lots of different art supplies so I could play around with the various things and see what I liked best. I figured backgrounds would be a good place to practice and see what I like best. I have acrylics, watercolors in a box, watercolor pencils and water soluble oil pastels. I love painting with acrylic because it feels like painting. I like the way the brush glides through the creamy paint. But I discovered that straight acrylics dry fast. Like two brush strokes and you’re done, which doesn’t work for backgrounds. Love doing an acrylic wash. I like coloring a page with the water soluble oil pastels but I don’t like the way it looks when I add water. I do like these for adding a touch of color on top of something else. I prefer rubbing this color in rather than adding water. I haven’t done a lot with watercolor pencils yet because I’m working on backgrounds and they aren’t the best way to color a large surface but the little I have played with, I like. I don’t have regular watercolor crayons, just the oil ones, so I don’t know what they would be like but perhaps better? I have only played a little with the watercolors in the box and due to operator error. I have now watched a few more videos on watercolors and feel like I can try again.
5. Design. So many writers tell me they think in pictures, they see their story play out in front of them as if watching a play. I’ve never seen pictures in my stories. I’ve never "watched" my story unfold. I hear voices. Only voices. So this whole "picture" thing has me stymied. How hard could it be to make a background for a page? How badly could you screw up putting a few colors down and smooshing them around? A lot, apparently. I don’t have an eye for this sort of thing. I gorged myself on visiting websites of people who shared photos of their art journals. I oohed and ahhed and then went over and, well, painted a lot of crappy backgrounds. But that’s okay. My new friend Gesso can fix all that. But seriously, I didn’t think it would be that hard to do a background for a page but after doing 12 of them I hate them all. Yes, all! The only think I could think of was covering it all up again with more collage. I think the next ones will be just solid color washes, nothing fancy.
6. The journal. Oddly enough, I am not thinking of doing this journals for actual writing. I do a lot of actual writing else (like on this blog) and I know that the texture of painted or Gessoed pages would feel like fingernails on the chalkboard to me. I think for journals that I plan to write more than a line or two in I will have to stick with water color pages that will feel like real paper when I write in them. But I hope to make art a part of my life and to use it to explore myself and the world around me.
I may have mentioned that I am starting to "play" with art a tiny bit. Play is a hard word for me to use because it’s not something I do often or well. And art, well, I just thought that was the name of some guy I hadn’t met yet. But I am trying. And I’m inspired by many posts about creative journaling from
There’s also been a whole lot of "visioning" going on, such as talked about over here on Shrinking Violets and earlier in the week
|From First Forays into Art|
|From First Forays into Art|
|From First Forays into Art|
Final vision board for my writing life. I made so many beginner’s mistakes on this one but it was a learning process for me. I didn’t set out with the intention to mount it on anything so this ended up being built from the top down instead of from the bottom up. Gluing mistakes caused a ton of wrinkles which make the perfectionist in me cringe but I just keep telling myself that the wrinkles merely represent the bumps in the road on my writing path. I also did packing tape image transfers and while it was fine in theory, I didn’t like the shiny bits of tape that came through. I roughed it up where I could with my crayons. After doing this one I feel better about moving forward into my vision journal.
More art in the next post too.